Effectiveness of laundry washing agents and conditions in the removal of cat and dust mite allergen from bedding dust

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Sep;108(3):369-74. doi: 10.1067/mai.2001.117799.


Background: There is limited information about the removal of allergens by laundry washing.

Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to determine the dynamics of the removal of mite allergen (Der p 1) and cat allergen (Fel d 1) from bed dust during simulated laundry processes.

Methods: Three studies were performed. The first compared combinations of 4 laundry agents (water alone, soap, detergent with enzymes, and detergent without enzymes), 4 temperatures (15 degrees, 25 degrees, 45 degrees, and 60 degrees C), and 3 extraction times (5, 20, and 60 minutes). The second study examined allergen extraction by 11 common brands of detergents at 25 degrees and 45 degrees C for 5 minutes. The third study compared 4 detergents containing enzymes before and after the denaturation of their enzymes. To measure the quantity of allergens extracted, each study used an ELISA assay as well as a more sensitive but semiquantitative Halogen immunoassay to detect any allergens remaining after the simulated laundry extraction.

Results: Study 1 showed that detergents extracted more of both Fel d 1 and Der p 1 than either soap or water alone and that almost all allergens were extracted within 5 minutes at 25 degrees. However, washing at 60 degrees C extracted slightly more Fel d 1 and denatured Der p 1, resulting in lower residual amounts of both allergens. Study 2 showed that all of the commercial detergents performed similarly. Study 3 showed that the presence of enzymes in detergent formulations did not produce a significant effect on the extraction of allergens.

Conclusion: Using detergent solutions at 25 degrees for at least 5 minutes was sufficient to extract most mite and cat allergen from dust of bedding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens*
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Bedding and Linens*
  • Detergents*
  • Dust*
  • Glycoproteins
  • Laundering / methods*


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Dermatophagoides
  • Detergents
  • Dust
  • Glycoproteins
  • Fel d 1 protein, Felis domesticus